Thursday, November 24, 2005

Finally Mia's highlight

Apologies to Mia, we're finally going to note her highlight. It's from CounterPunch, David Lindorff's "R.I.P. ITT."

"ITT" is In These Times. In These Times is not stopping circulation.

David Lindorff wrote an article on depleted uranium for In These Times. We noted it here with an excerpt and a link. It was a great article.

Without naming the writer or the magazine, I expressed my disappointment over the decision by the editors to (my opinion), under pressure, buckle and issue a statement.

Here's the note, page 5, the October 24, 2005 issue:

More extensive research has led us to agree with Cohen-Joppa that expanded use of DU by the Pentagon cannot be comfirmed at this time. We regret the error.

I don't think Lindorff made an error. I think In These Times made an error running that note.

Some visitors complained that the stumbled upon the entry and didn't know what magazine I was speaking of. I didn't name the magazine (didn't have to members, knew which one). For a number of reasons including the fact that Lindorff hadn't made any public comment that I knew of.

He has now. He states that In These Times refused to run his own letter of reply until he offered that if they didn't he'd take the matter to FAIR.

As far as I know, In These Times has not weighed in with a response to Lindorff. I'm not sure that they should. The matter's already embarrassing enough.

At the gina & krista round-robin, I discussed the editor's note and the communities sympathies were with David Lindorff.

The founder of In These Times, James Weinstein, passed away not that long ago. Prior to that, the magazine switched from biweekly to every three weeks. (I'm not sure whether subscribers, I subscribe, are getting their subscriptions extended or not.)

The Nation's going through a transition with the transfer of power from Victor Navasky to Katrina vanden Heuvel. That transition was planned and has gone smoothly. With In These Times, it's not surprising that there would be bumps along the way.

Hopefully, the treatment of David Lindorff is the worst of the bumps (and I think it's a pretty awful episode for the magazine). They currently have an article on white phosphorus. It's a good article and the writer's one we usually highlight. But we're not highlighting it.

That's not because there's a boycott of the magazine. That's due to the fact that after the depleted uranium story and the editors caving (my opinion), we're not highlighting news from them that might be on a controversial topic.

When the Times runs a correction on an excerpt we've featured here, I will note it. (Although I'm seriously thinking of not doing that and noting "The Times reports . . ." in the entries. Since this is a daily site, that would cover that we're noting what they're noting that day.) But when I read the corrections each day in the Times, I'm always on edge when I see a story that we've noted and then have to check to see if the corrected portion is something we excerpted.

With Rebecca's desire for everyone in the community to tag their entries, enough time's already being consumed and my time is limited. After In These Times' decision to cave (my opinion) on Lindorff's article, I have no desire to excerpt a news report (as opposed to a think piece or a column) from the magazine when they may issue a correction (or in the case of Lindorff, a withdrawal).

We'll continue to highlight opinion pieces (and continue to highlight Susan J. Douglas and Salem Muwakkil, two voices the community enjoys).

In These Times, like most independent media, struggles financially. Jaclyn, at Pop Politics, has a piece on how it and other magazines are having trouble get the monies from sales. Independent media has enough trouble breaking through and finding an audience without it being slagged.

We'll continue to highlight (non news stories) from In These Times, we'll keep the link up. Members are confused as to why someone's been brought in to cover what they see as Susan J. Douglas' territory (the media). Members have pointed out that no correction was made to a piece that claimed Commander-in-Chief wasn't promoted.

It was heavily promoted by ABC, at the expense of other shows, and it was a "buzz" show in the press before it was even added to ABC's lineup. (The first point, Ava and I noted in our review of Commander-in-Chief. The second point, the "buzz," Ava and I addressed here before ABC announced their fall lineup.)

Members are pouncing on that mistake in light of the caving (my opinion) on Lindorff's story. (There's another reason members are pouncing, besides the fact that they feel Douglas' territory is being poached.)

I have no idea why that (the claim that ABC didn't promote the show heavily) made it into the article. (A false claim. Ava and I knew the show was heavily promoted. We didn't need to check with friends at ABC and one at Commander-in-Chief before reaching that conclusion; however, we did check.)

It was a sloppy mistake. They happen. Hopefully, the writer will have stronger pieces in the future. The writer's also being seen as "tainted" due to the West episode. So I want to note (as I did at the round-robin) that the writer (as members know, they've seen the e-mails) was not involved in the West episode.

The Progressive is now offering the option of commenting at their site. When I saw that, I thought, "Oh no." Online organizations that offer comments (my opinion, and I'm not talking about blogs) should have a policy in place.

The Nation, as Tracey has noted, doesn't need one. They're free speech. You can comment in agreement or disagreement. You can be serious or silly. You can attempt a straight critique or a humorous one (or an attempt at humor). Hopefully, The Progressive will have the same policy. In These Times comments appear to follow that approach as well.

We all know that one organization elected not to follow that. That someone at the org first attempted to seek out information on West (I'd call it "spying") and then, the following day, attempted to shame him into an apology and was joined by another at the org who made the ridiculous claim that "Come out of the GOP closet" was "hate speech" and, in the flurry of e-mails, (as Ruth pointed out, they apparently had nothing better to do that day than harrass a kid with e-mails) make the threat that four sites would be delinked. (We delinked as soon as Rebecca filled me in that night. The org followed by delinking from us. I could care less. I do care that West has never received an apology and that there's no policy posted at their site that says "If you disagree with our opinions we will ban you, attempt to find out information about you . . .")

The writer is from that organization. The writer is not one of the two that sent out e-mails. I know the community's feelings towards the organization (and share them) but unless more e-mails exist (possible, we didn't know about the spying attempts until after the fact -- Ruth has addressed it at length in this Ruth's Morning Edition Report), my opinion is that it's not fair to hold her accountable for the (bad) actions of others.

Mia noted, when highlighting Lindorff's article, that what happened to him was "appalling." The community shares that sentiment. Hopefully, this was a really rough start for In These Times and we'll see more to be proud of in the future. The writer discussed previously has tremendous editorial experience and that can be a huge asset to the magazine. Hopefully, there will be many proud episodes in the future for In These Times and we'll gladly highlight them.

We will also continue to highlight David Lindorff. He wrote a brave article and we still stand behind it.

In These Times was the first magazine we offered as a permalink. It's had much going for it in the past and hopefully will have a long future with much more worthy of note. Mia saw the article first and didn't ask for a delinking from In These Times. However, two other members have noted the articles in e-mails since and asked if we'd be delinking.

There are only two reasons we'd delink that I can think of. The first would be if they attempted to push a right wing agenda while passing themselves off as left (say hiring young Fred Barnes and Andrew Sullivan types). I don't see that happening. My opinion is that people who care about the magazine (and care about the left) blinked when they should have stood firm (re: Lindorff). It's a bad moment for the magazine but they are having financial problems and they're trying to keep the magazine alive and afloat. (I'm not offering that as a justifiable reason, just offering it out of fairness.)

The second reason would be if they changed their commenting policy without noting it. I do not support what was done to West. I'm offended by it. I'd be offended if he were an adult. When we allowed comments (pulled due to members objections and the fact that someone started posting non-work safe environment content -- graphic information), we had a number of visitors
(including two who felt the need to comment on every entry). Though members were bothered (Keesha was the most vocal and would comment in response to those two's comments), it didn't bother me. I never felt the need to try to seek out information on the two behind their backs, or to ban them or to delete their comments.

People are entitled to their opinions and if you're allowing comments, the fact that someone disagrees with you isn't a reason, to me, for banning them, or harrassing them, or forcing an apology from them, or attempt to get the "dirt" on them. If you're promoting yourself as a left site and wasting time praising a right-wing extremist, you are begging for someone to offer "Step out of the GOP closet." If the comment embarrasses and upsets you (and obviously it did embarrass and upset two people), the problem's not with the person who posted the comment, the problem is with you for promoting a right-wing extremist in an "Alan Keyes Is Making Sense" kind of manner. (That's a paraphrase from West and his father, to give credit.)

Those are the only two reasons I can think of that we'd delink from In These Times. (And for the record, if any sort of sheepish apology or even a bad "maybe I shouldn't have . . ." had ever been sent to West, we would have returned to noting the org. West's parents want this dropped. They also feel that their son is owed an apology. Another reason for the delay in this entry is that I wanted their permission before bringing up this issue here. FYI, along with having their permission, I also read the comments pertaining to what was done to West to them over the phone.)

So to recap, David Lindorff has our sympathies and our support. The position of this site re: In These Times is we'll continue to note think pieces and columns and continue to provide the permalink. And ("Oprah moment" Gina will say) I'll also note that a planned transition isn't easy (though KvH has made it seem so with her steady hand at The Nation) and that independent media isn't rolling in the dough. The David Lindorff episode was a bad moment for the magazine but it's had many fine moments in the past and will hopefully continue to have them in the future.

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